PROPHETSTOWN — The La Salle-Peru girls basketball team has been busy over the holidays.
Playing in their second holiday tournament, the Lady Cavaliers played their fifth game in seven days Friday.
The Lady Cavs pushed through their tiredness and were rewarded with a 44-35 victory over Hinckley-Big Rock in Orange Pool play in the Lady Prophets Tournament.
“We just grinded it out,” L-P coach Hollis Vickery said. “We didn’t play our best ball by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve had a long stretch of games here and it looked like it today, but I was proud of the way we grinded it out. We played defense when we really had to and got buckets when we really had to.”
With the victory, the Lady Cavs (9-7) finished 3-0 in pool play and will face host Prophetstown at 7:30 tonight in the championship game.
“Like coach said in the locker room, this is the first time we’ve reached nine wins before New Years since before all of us were born, so it’s a big accomplishment,” L-P junior Hannah Wolfe said. “We’ve pushed through all these games we’ve had. We’re starting to get more comfortable with our defense and we’re starting to make our offense work. It really means a lot to get to go to the championship game.”
The Lady Cavs punched their ticket to the title game by winning a low-scoring affair against the Lady Royals, who finished 2-2 in pool play.
L-P trailed 10-9 after the first quarter but rallied to take a 23-19 halftime lead.
The teams played even in the third quarter before the Lady Cavs began to create some cushion in the fourth.
L-P went up seven at 33-26 on a basket by Wolfe with 5:40 left and never led by less than four points again.
“We tried to get it inside,” Vickery said. “We tried to take care of the ball and tried to execute a little better.”
The Lady Cavs closed on a 7-1 run on a basket by Madison Held and 5-of-8 free throw shooting in the final 43 seconds, including 3-of-4 by Jena Argubright.
“It was very close, but I think we just kept calm and made our free throws toward the end when they started fouling,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Alexa Zimbleman had seven points and six rebounds as L-P capitalized on its size advantage.
“We made sure we looked down in the post more,” Wolfe said. “We did more plays that focus more on our post players. We circled the ball around and kept looping it until we eventually got it to the post. It worked because offensively we could get good shots and defensively we could front their posts.”
Argubright finished with nine points, four steals and four assists, while Held added six points and four steals.
Riverdale 53, Hall 42
The Lady Red Devils trailed by as many as 16 points in the second quarter Friday and faced a 27-18 halftime deficit.
But in the second half, Hall turned up the defensive pressure and capitalized on free-throw opportunities to get within single digits before dropping its final Orange Pool game.
“The second half I thought we played a lot better than the first half,” Hall coach Josiah Martin said. “I was very proud of the girls for their effort in the second half. The first half we came out a little slow, especially in the second quarter. In the end, that’s what cost us the game, but I was very proud of the girls for their effort.”
The Lady Red Devils pulled within six points at 30-24 on a pull-up jumper by Becca Herrmann with 2:57 left in the third quarter, but the Lady Rams closed the period on a 13-2 run to go into the fourth quarter up 43-26.
However, with Riverdale in foul trouble in the final eight minutes — three Lady Ram starters fouled out — Hall chipped away with free throws.
The Lady Red Devils made 10-of-14 free throws as they pulled as close as nine points.
“I think it’s a testament to the girls. They didn’t quit,” Martin said. “We had it down to six (in the third quarter), then Riverdale went on a big run to stretch the lead back out, but we didn’t quit. We stayed with it and we really worked hard.”
Ellen Herrmann led Hall (3-10) with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Hunter Galassi added nine points and nine boards.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.